Science has become our modern religion. We trust it, we rely on it, we sometimes even worship it. So let’s review what truths science has given us so far.
Here, for your contemplation, I’ve listed six important and well-established basic scientific facts. They’re subject to change, of course, as all science constantly is, but they’re fairly well-established in our current understanding of the universe.
Would it surprise you to learn that the Baha’i teachings, revealed long before any of these scientific facts became known, refer to exactly the same theories and observations?
As a scientist and as a Baha’i, it certainly surprised me when I encountered them and began to link them with current discoveries in my discipline of theoretical physics. But don’t take my word for it—take a look for yourself. Along with each of these generally-accepted modern physical facts I’ve included short quotes about those primary principles from the Baha’i writings:
1. The non-existence of absolute rest. This is a well understood consequence of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle: the fact that the absolute temperature of zero Kelvin is impossible to reach. In other words, nothing remains at rest, and motion defines all things:
Divine and all-encompassing Wisdom hath ordained that motion be an inseparable concomitant of existence, whether inherently or accidentally, spiritually or materially. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablet of the Universe, provisional translation.
2. The non-existence of a void. Current quantum field theory stipulates no empty space. Scientists now know that space is not really empty—underlying it is a field from which particles pop in and out of existence. Actually, a vacuum can never reach absolute zero energy, which means no void can possibly exist:
..a void is impossible and inconceivable. – Ibid.
3. A non-physical continuum mediates the propagation of electromagnetic waves. Scientists call this intangible reality the quantum field, while the Baha’i teachings call it the ether:
Even the ether, the forces of which are said in natural philosophy to be heat, light, electricity and magnetism, is an intelligible and not a sensible reality. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, pp. 93-94.
4. This continuum gives rise to both matter and electromagnetism. Science now understands that the “solid objects” we think of as real, and the electromagnetic fields we can measure, have no actual existence. The Baha’i teachings agree:
… the substance and primary matter of contingent beings is the ethereal power, which is invisible and only known through its effects, such as electricity, heat, and light — these are vibrations of that power, and this is established and proven in natural philosophy and is known as the ethereal substance. – from a tablet of Abdu’l-Baha, provisional translation by Keven Brown.
5. Gravity drives stellar formation. We now understand that the force of gravity, long thought of as simply a force of attraction, actually plays a major role in the creation of the universe itself:
By the operation of this attractive force those holy and resplendent suns, with their luminous worlds, satellites and planets, circling and orbiting in their heavens, at once exerted attraction and were subject to it, induced motion and were themselves moved, began orbiting and set into orbit other bodies, shone forth and caused others to shine. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablet of the Universe, provisional translation.
6. The universe originated from a singularity. Most scientists now believe, because of cosmic microwave background in space and because the universe continues to expand, that a single body—a singularity—once contained all mass, energy, and spacetime. Compressed to an infinitely dense point, that initial singularity gave birth to our universe:
This verse from the Baha’i writings refers to the revelation of Baha’u’llah’s predecessor The Bab, also known as the Primal Point. I think it also can be applied to the understanding of origination, because this theme of creation coming forth from one point or singularity runs throughout many of Baha’u’llah’s writings.
This, of course, isn’t an exhaustive list—but I did identify these fairly well-established scientific principles as the most clear and least debatable ones we know of today.
Could all of this mean that a 19th Century religious revelation—the Baha’i Faith—might offer us a unique body of knowledge and insight, not only in the spiritual realm, but in the scientific one as well? Could these truths, reached after great scientific struggles and enormous levels of effort, already have been alluded to in the Baha’i writings?
In the next essay in this series, we’ll look more carefully at that remarkable question.